Tag Archives: Storage

Hands-on with VNXe 3300 Part 1: Initial setup


Couple of months ago I had a chance to play around with VNXe 3300 loaded with 30x300GB SAS drives before it was put on production. I was curious to see how the VNXe 3300 would pefrorm compared to CX4-240. I had already made some peformance testing on the CX4-240 so I had half of the data already collected. Before I could start testing I had to do the initial setup and configuration. During the configuration I encountered some issues.

I will be posting the whole experience in seven parts [edited 9/23/2011]:

  1. Initial setup and configuration
  2. iSCSI and NFS servers
  3. Upgrade to latest software version: new features and fixed “known issues”
  4. Storage pools
  5. Storage provisioning
  6. VNXe performance
  7. Wrap up

Initial setup

EMC has a really good video on YouTube about the initial setup and configuration. I also recommend reading the VNXe 3300 installation guide. I’m not going to go through the installation steps but basically there are two ways to set up the VNXe: auto discovery or manual configuration. I wasn’t physically at the same site where the VNXe was and couldn’t get the auto discovery working remotely. So I used the manual configuration method and one of my colleagues inserted the USB-drive containing the configuration to the VNXe and powered it on. After VNXe had completed the network configurations I was able to connect to Unisphere using web browser.

After the first login ‘Unisphere Configuration Wizard’ will show up and help to go through the configuration steps:

  • License Agreement
  • Unisphere Passwords
  • DNS
  • Time Server
  • Disk Configuration
  • EMC Product Support Option
  • EMC Support Credentials
  • Storage Server Options
  • Shared Folder Server
  • iSCSI Server
  • Unisphere Licenses

It takes about 10 minutes to complete the initial setup if all necessary dns and time server names and ip addresses are ready before starting it and then VNXe is basically ready to be used. The only things left to do is to connect the hosts and provision some storage for them. I wanted to play around with the configuration so I skipped the disk configurations and storage server options. When you exit the configuration wizard a “Unisphere Licenses” prompt will appear. There are two options to obtain the licenses: from file or from Powerlink. I chose the Powerlink option and this is when I encountered the first problem:

So I wasn’t able to obtain the license file from Powerlink. I didn’t think it was a big deal, maybe a configuration mishap during the setup so I used EMC’s Support portal (http://supportbeta.emc.com/) to get the license file and uploaded it to the VNXe. Now I was ready to start playing around with the VNXe.

Unisphere

After been using Navisphere for several years Unisphere is a huge improvement for the UI. I was already familiar with Unisphere after using it on CLARiiON CX4 and Celerra NX3e.

Unisphere dashboard view gives an overall view of used and free space and also system alerts. Unisphere is really easy to navigate, simple to use and  fast (even when using through a slower link). EMC has posted really good videos on Youtube about Unisphere so I’m not going to go into details of that.

EMC Online Support

This is one of the big new features that EMC introduced with the VNXe. From Unisphere the user is able to watch how to videos, access online training and community, open support requests, start live chat with technical support, download software updates and more. Of course I wanted to try out these nice new features. When I tried to click anything on the support page I got the same “Unable to connect to EMC Online Support” error that I got when trying to obtain the licenses. So maybe there was some kind of mishap during the initial setup. I checked the EMC Support Credentials and those were ok. I also checked the network configuration on the VNXe and was able to connect to internet from the pc that I was using the Unishpere from. Everything seemed to be ok but I still got the same error. I decided to open a chat session with technical support from EMC Support portal (http://supportbeta.emc.com/). I explained my issue to the technician and got an answer to my question. He told me that it’s a known issue reported by most customers and that they are looking into it and expecting to fix the issue in the future release.

Ok so I can’t use the support functions on VNXe for now. Not a big show stopper. I can still open my browser and access all the documentation, support contracts, documents and software upgrades via EMC Support portal (http://supportbeta.emc.com/).

Software Update

Browsing the EMC support portal I found out that there was a new software update (2.0.3 at the time) available for the VNXe. So I downloaded it to my local pc, uploaded it to the VNXe (Settings – More configurations – Update Software), performed a health check and installed the new software update. Again, very easy and the whole process took about an hour.

Conclusions

In this post I only covered the steps to get the VNXe up and running. At this point the VNXe3300 would get an excellent grade judging by the steps that I’ve gone through so far. I can’t disagree with EMC using “simple” as one of the adjectives to describe the VNXe. I would also add the adjective easy to that list. VNXe is easy and fast to implement, simple to navigate and also very easy to get familiar with.

Even though the built in VNXe support functions didn’t work it’s not like it’s missing some major functionality. All the same support functions can be found from supportbeta.emc.com site. Also the experience that I had using the online chat was very pleasant. The technician knew the product and promptly responded with an answer. I was really hoping that the issue would be fixed in the next software version. Well now I know it was and I will cover that in part four.

In the next post (part 2) I will go through the iSCSI and NFS server configurations and how to connect hosts to VNXe.


Week after the EMC World


So it has been over a week since the EMC World ended. Last week went by so fast trying to catch up with all the missed e-mails and work issues that had piled up during the EMC World. 16 hour days talking tech all day kind of drained my batteries so I had to do some recharging before getting my toughts together for a blog post. I also edited and uploaded some pictures to Flickr. First I wasn’t going to take the camera with me at all because I wanted to travel light. But I did and took some nice shots.

Like I already mentioned those were long days full of good conversations and information sharing. I met lots of great people some of whom I’ve been tweeting with but never seen before and some whom I’ve never met at all. Just what I was looking for. EMC had also organized a place for meeting other bloggers: Bloggers Lounge. It was nice to sit down on cozy couches after walking around the Venetian, to have a great cup of coffee and connect with other bloggers.

Networking wasn’t all that I was looking for. In my pre-EMC World post I mentioned that I would concentrate more on the networking than I’ve had in the past conferences. But there were just so many interesting sessions that I couldn’t resist attending to. The session itself might not always give you lots of new information but you can ask questions and go talk to the speakers after the session. That’s how I get the most out of the sessions. I had several good conversations with the speakers and got the information I was looking for.

vLabs

Getting hands on experience was one of the things that I was looking forward to. There were many teasers tweeted and also posted on blogs about the vLabs while they were being put together. But it was all worth the wait. The vLabs were really nicely planned and exceuted and most importantly the labs were great. Thanks to all the vSpecialists who worked hard to make the vLabs possible.

EMC Proven Professional

EMC had a gread deal on the proven professional certifications during the EMC World: 50% off from all certification exams. First I thought it was a really good deal but it wouldn’t concern me. Then a week before the EMC World I ordered the Kindle version of the EMC ISM book and decided if I have time to read the book and feel confident with the practice test I’ll try the exam. Well I didn’t have time to read the whole book but I decided to take the test anyway. I passed and now I have the EMCISA certification. Next step will then be the Cloud Architect certification.

The fun part

There is no conference without parties and the EMC World 2011 was not and exception. Most mentionable ones were Christopher Kusek’s party at one of the suites in Cosmopolitan and storage beers / vBeers organized by Bas Raayman. Met lots of great people and of course had lots of fun too. Thank you Christopher and Bas for getting all the people together. Good times!

Chad and Wade hosted a great Chad’s World live show and with the help of the vSpecialist team they showed some cool live demos. The room was packed and the crowd was really excited. And of course there was also plenty of cold Canadian adult beverages served as I guessed. From there it was nice to head on to the EMC World party where EMC’s Barn Dogs and The Fray was performing. Relaxing atmosphere, good food and good music.

Thank you!

Big thanks to EMC and all the people who made the EMC World 2011 happen. Looking forward to the next years event.


My first EMC World


This year’s EMC World is going to be my first and I’m really looking forward to it. I’ve been working as a customer with EMC’s products the past 6 years and our whole storage infrastructure is built on top of their products. I got the ok to go already last year but the due date of my second child was too close so I decided not to go.

For the past couple of weeks I’ve been browsing trough the conference schedule and trying to figure out what sessions to attend. There is lots and lots of good breakout sessions but the four days seems not to be enough. I always book my breakout session schedule too tight and end up not spending enough time at the exhibition and meetups. You can watch the recorded break out sessions later, but you can’t meet all the people later. So I decided to spend more time socializing and networking than I have in the past conferences.

Breakout Sessions

There will be over 500 breakout sessions available and here are some that I’m definitely interested in:

EMC Unisphere Analyzer – Hands-on Workshop

VNXe System Architecture

SQL Server on VMware – Architecting for Performance

vLabs

There will also be a 200 seat virtualized hands on vLab where you can get familiar with several EMC’s products including the new VNX and VNXe product lines. There is a group of EMC employees that have been working hard to make this happen. Big thanks to them already. I know I’m going to be spending fair amount of time in one of those 200 seats. I’m also keen to see Nicholas Weaver’s vLab stats which he’s been teasing about on Twitter this week. This guy can create some cool stuff.

Bloggers lounge

If you are a blogger and attending EMC World you need to check out the Bloggers Lounge. It is the place to meet other bloggers and maybe also do a quick post on your blog. Some bloggers that have been there for a long time might not consider me as a real blogger with my whopping 4 blog posts. But you need to start somewhere right? As a beginner I have lots of questions to other bloggers. I’m also interested to talk to the other newbie bloggers and share thoughts.

Spousetivities

Traveling with the family or spouse? Spousetivities is what you need to get your spouse involved with. Spousetivities organizes fun activities and happenings for spouses around the conference city. It was created by Scott Lowe’s wife Crystal after attending several technology conferences as a spouse and found herself bored while Scott was attending the conferences. I wish I knew about this when I travelled to VMworld -08 and -09 with my family. There are also some good deals for all EMC World attendees on Spousetivities site, so check it out.

vStogies

Apparently this meetup has taken place in the past VMworlds without my knowledge. I like good cigars and I’m not going to miss this one. Good cigars and tech talk sounds good. Follow #vStogies on Twitter for the time and place. I’ve heard there is a good cigar place in Ceasars Palace.

vBeers and storagebeers

Another good meetup organized by Bas Raayman. It is all going to be about good food, drinks and tech talk and socializing. I bet it is going to be good night!

Chad’s World

Chad’s World will be live on Wednesday night before the party and there will also be a happy hour. Wonder if they are serving “frosty cold Canadian adult beverages” there. I’ve been watching Chad’s World episodes and to be honest those are funny but also have really informative content. Getting customers involved in something like that is really awesome. Wade and Chad you rock!

Hopefully I’ll see you in EMC World. It is always nice to meet new people and share thoughts. I’m looking forward to sharing experiences about EMC products, VMware, disaster recovery and anything IT related.


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